Ivan Cleary speaks out after Ricky Stuart cops NRL ban

Ivan Cleary and Ricky Stuart are pictured side by side.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary says the one-week ban handed to Raiders counterpart Ricky Stuart over his tirade against Jaeman Salmon was 'fair'. Pictures: Getty Images

Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has publicly backed the one-week suspension handed to Canberra Raiders counterpart Ricky Staurt over his unprecentented verbal attack on Jaeman Salmon.

Stuart left the NRL world reeling last weekend when, following Canberra's loss to Penrith, he labelled Salmon a 'weak-gutted dog' over an on-field incident with Tom Starling.

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Salmon was fined $1000 by the NRL for kicking Starling, but the league took a much dimmer view of Stuart's post-match tirade.

The Raiders coach has been prohibited from having any contact with the team whatsoever for one week, becoming the first coach in NRL history to be banned.

Stuart has also copped a $25,000 fine for his comments, in which he admitted the animosity towards Salmon dates back to an incident between him and Ricky's son during their junior football days over 10 years ago.

The comments have ignited a massive debate in the NRL world, however Panthers coach Cleary has backed the NRL's handling of the issue.

“As a club, we support the NRL,” Cleary said.

“It‘s been handled pretty well by the NRL. I think (the penalty) is fair.

“We‘ve been sticking close to Jaeman this week and hopefully he and everyone else can move on.”

Salmon has yet to comment publicly on the furore, after his family released a statement the following day declaring legal action against Stuart was not off the table.

Amid an understandably difficult week for the 23-year-old, Cleary praised Salmon for the way he had responded to the controversy.

“He was a bit rattled on the night,” Cleary said.

“He was also a bit concerned about his family. They were quite upset, so I guess when that happens, it brings it to another level.

“But this week he‘s seemed OK … He’s shown he’s pretty strong-minded.

“He’s a really popular member of the team on and off the field. We love him.

“We certainly thought it was best if he just kept his head down and just let it blow over and got on with his footy.

“It‘s a really important game for him and the club tomorrow night.”

Raiders standing by Ricky Stuart after NRL suspension

Canberra will rally around Stuart and get on with keeping their NRL season alive, captain Elliott Whitehead says.

Overshadowed by the storm over Stuart's comments is the fact the Raiders' season is teetering on the brink. They are one game and considerable point differential behind the eighth-ranked Sydney Roosters with four games to play following their loss to the Panthers.

In a week dominated by unwanted headlines about their coach, Whitehead said his players stood by him.

"We've got his back, he had his reasons," Whitehead told reporters on Tuesday.

"I'm not going to go into them but we're all supportive of Ricky and he knows he probably shouldn't have said it on that platform.

"He's upset he let his emotions get the better of him."

Jaeman Salmon scores a try for Penrith against the Canberra Raiders.
Jaeman Salmon was on the receiving end of an unnecessarily personal attack from Raiders coach Ricky Stuart last weekend, which lead to his one-week suspension. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Brett White will reportedly take the reins in Stuart's absence, although a Canberra statement released on Tuesday said "assistant coaches will take charge of the team during this period and for the game on Sunday afternoon".

A former Raiders player, White faces a daunting challenge in his first game at the helm as he tries to steer the side to the first of four consecutive wins they likely need to play finals.

Whitehead said their gameplan would need to come to the fore to make his job as easy as possible.

"Whoever comes in, nothing changes ... we've got a gameplan that we've got to stick to, we've used that for the last couple of weeks so nothing will change in that department either," he said.

"As a club we're moving forward and not trying to worry about last week, we've got a job to do this week and that's to win a game of footy.

"We are disappointed we lost last week but we're trying to bounce back from that because we have to."

With AAP

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